As I am feeling a bit under the weather I worry that attempting my usual long form essay would result in an even less coherent result than usual, and so I offer this:
Almost two years ago I wrote this post on Michael Klare, and Hampshire College. Now it looks as though Hampshire is an institution at serious risk of disappearing. I stand by my analysis and even by my “modest proposal”; imagine a university becoming the embodiment of the behavior it claims to expect of itself and others!
More information is making it into the local press regarding declining enrollments in rural school districts. People are demanding that the state help out with the transportation line item in particular as, even with today’s super low fuel prices and high property values, districts are having a hard time making ends meet. When Springfield essentially gave up on creating racial balance in the schools the city went back to a neighborhood school model and instantly saved millions in transportation costs. When I was in high school all but one of the city’s high schools were downtown and so, rather than use yellow buses to transport us, we all took the Springfield Street Railway buses to and from school. Today most of the high schools sit on the State Street corridor and so the renamed “PVTA” is still used to get students to school and adults to work.
Ware is having a tough go of it. I wrote this piece referencing the town just over two years ago. Today a persistent dirty water situation is being discussed, the community is the only one in Hampshire County being singled out for pyrrhottite problems with home foundations, cost overruns on school projects despite declining enrollments, and what people inside and outside the community would agree is a serious image problem.
These are outliers; the funky liberal arts college, the rural school district, and the small formerly industrial town. They are having a hard time holding it together and delivering on the basics, remaining solvent, keeping buildings in adequate repair, providing clean drinking water; and these are the good times, low unemployment, stable property values, stocks at or near all time highs. What happens when the gyre starts to widen?
It’s going to be interesting. I recently read an academic paper wherein it was predicted that the population would grow roughly 10% in this region due to internal migration from issues connected to climate change. Maybe, but just reading a handful of articles every week one gets the impression that with the fading of the “baby boom echo” this region is looking at its population numbers falling off a cliff…except for those communities with a large Hispanic population. I have no doubt that Springfield’s Puerto Rican population will be comfortable decamping to smaller local cities and inner ring suburbs, but will they move to the hinterlands and if they did, would they be welcome?